Joyce Belville spends one full day a week volunteering as an early settlement mediator in the Chickasha area.
Most weeks she willingly takes on two family and divorce cases: one in the morning and the other in the afternoon in hopes of solving disputes before they reach an expensive, possibly drawn-out conclusion in the courtroom.
Because of her efforts and contributions, Belville was named the John R. McCune Volunteer Mediator of the Year recently at the Oklahoma Judicial Center in Oklahoma City. There were 10 other volunteers up for the top award in the state.
She was the Early Settlement-East Central Program’s nominee for ADRS (Alternative Dispute Resolution System) Volunteer of the Year for a second time.
Belville joined the basic mediation training for the Early Settlement-East Central Program after reading about it in the newspaper in 2009. She promptly responded as a volunteer in the program to benefit residents of her community.
“To learn that Early Settlement provided a free service for those needing mediation, saving them money from possible additional attorney fees and court costs sold me on the value of the program,” said Belville. “It’s about giving those involved the power to make their own decisions concerning the most important things in their lives.”
Belville’s training in mediation, as well as helping those in need, began long before she joined Early Settlement-East Central. Prior to her retirement, Belville worked at Fort Sill with a program that also utilized volunteers.
“During my career at Fort Sill in the Legal Assistance Office, I attended some mediation training which was very helpful in my role as the post’s victim/witness coordinator, assisting with immigration and naturalization clients, and in administering the tax assistance program,” Belville said.
Belville feels fortunate to have worked in a career that she loved and wanted to pay it forward through volunteering.
“I told one retired military couple that had volunteered over 20 years that when I grew up I wanted to be just like them and volunteer,” said Belville, who attended both basic training and family and divorce training with Early Settlement in 2009, just after she retired from 36 years of Federal Civil Service. Since then, Belville has mediated both in small claims court and family mediations.
“Early Settlement provides a resource for helping those in need of mediation through no-cost professional services,” Belville said. “It has a reputation of caring for the needs of community residents during a very stressful period in their lives.”
Belville strongly believes that the parties, involved in a dispute have the ability to resolve them.
“No one is better suited to work out their differences than the parties involved. This in no way minimizes the value that attorneys provide to their clients in mediation settings,” said Belville. “Mediation simply provides an awareness and mechanism to work through conflict when the people sometimes see no alternative other than turning their issues over to a judge for resolution.”
Feedback from attorneys and mediation participants is consistently positive of her skills and professionalism, according to Kathy King, director of the Early Settlement-East Central Program. Cases frequently mediated by Belville result in an agreement, but never at the expense of mediating with the highest ethical standards.
“Joyce’s dedication, professionalism, and outstanding skills as a mediator make her selection as the ES-EC Volunteer of the Year nomination simple,” said King. “When a case is assigned to Joyce, I’m confident the parties are in good hands.”
Belville has made major contributions to the Chickasha community with the implementation of a free tax assistance program for lower income tax payers that she initiated in 2009. She has also been involved as Chickasha Mobile Meals treasurer, secretary for Chapter FV PEO, treasurer for Sorosis Study Club, Vice President of the United Methodist Women at Epworth UMC and coordinator of Something Worthwhile, a monthly outreach program for ladies of Chickasha and the surrounding area.